When two firefighters wandered into a diner at 5:30am, they were tired and hungry from the 12-hour fire they had been fighting. Little did they know, their morning would be turned around and their lives changed forever with a single act of kindness.
The two firefighters, Tim Young and Paul Hullings, strolled into a small diner called 130 Diner in Delran, New Jersey, and asked for the biggest coffee available. After Paul faught a warehouse fire for 12 hours, Tim took him out to breakfast, looking for a place to rest for a short time.
Their server, Liz Woodward, could see the exhaustion in their faces, and decided to pay it forward. Liz decided that she would pay for their meal, and left this note in place of the bill.
The note reads:
“Your breakfast is on me today — Thank you for all that you do; for serving others & for running into the places everyone else runs away from. No matter your role, you are courageous, brave, and strong… Thank you for being bold and badass everyday! Fueled by fire and driven by courage — what an example you are. Get some rest.”
The men thanked her profusely and left with full bellies and grateful hearts. Tim went home and posted on his Facebook feed:
The thankful firefighters didn’t just ask people to “tip big,” however, they found out that Liz was actually the one in need of a little support. The Woodward family was asking for help with the cost of a wheelchair to transport her father to and from activities outside of the hospital. She was desperate to raise money for her quadriplegic dad through a GoFundMe page.
Liz writes on her campaign page:
“We have rented a van before, twice actually, so that my Dad could attend his father’s funeral and his daughter’s graduation, since transport isn’t covered unless your trip is deemed medically necessary (and it’s very expensive out of pocket, even to rent for a few hours). It was the first time since his aneurysm ruptured that he was able to interact with family members and friends he hadn’t seen in years. We watched my father smile and we witnessed joy and accomplishment, and we watched his memory strengthen with every person who left his side in disbelief that he could remember exactly who they were and what got them in trouble back in the day. See, my Dad is still Steve. He’s just Steve who survived a brain injury and now uses a wheelchair. He deserves to be Steve and not just a patient or a number on a chart.”
Tim took to his Facebook page once again, stating, “Turns out, the young lady who gave us a free meal is really the one that could use the help…”
Awareness of her cause spread quickly, and Liz’s page has since raised well over their goal of $17,000, reaching more than $70,000 to pay for the hydraulic lift and van for the Woodward family.
Her story has been shared by thousands, thanks to one act of kindness towards two tired firefighters. A very thankful Liz wrote on her page thanking the generous strangers who have donated.
“Our family has witnessed an outpouring of love & support from around the world, and I want to thank each and every one of you beautiful human beings for making this dream possible!??”